Rise in teen vaping concerns B-A teachers, officials


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Vaping is growing into a national epidemic where young people are concerned.

Maggie Erickson, Staff Writer

It is no big surprise that vaping isn’t the savior from smoking that everyone once thought it was.

By September 20, vaping had claimed claimed its eighth life, and each day that number seems to rise. At the moment, over 500 cases of vaping related illnesses have been reported. 

Teenagers are most at risk for the harmful effects of vaping. Since 2017, teen vaping has doubled. It is estimated that 30% of high school seniors have vaped at least once in the past year, according to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

These stats are scary because they hit close to home. Just a couple weeks ago, a 17-year old in Delaware county was put in a medically induced coma due to a lung issue that was related to vaping. 

Although there are a limited number of policy violators at Bellwood, it’s no secret that some students have been affected by this epidemic. Some feel pressured into vaping because their friends are doing it, and some have become addicted to the nicotine in the product itself. 

Vaping is one of the biggest health and safety concerns that I have for Bellwood-Antis high school students.”

— Principal Schreier

“Vaping is one of the biggest health and safety concerns that I have for Bellwood-Antis high school students,” said Principal Richard Schreier. 

The vaping issue hasn’t escaped the middle school either. Dr. Donald Wagner, middle school principal, said, “Over the past two years, there have been three instances of verified vaping. However, due to the fact that there is little odor to the vapor, I am concerned that it has happened without being detected.”

The symptoms doctors have been seeing are shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, fever, and weight loss. The scary thing is, everyone thinks they are safe to use, but how do we know? They haven’t been out for long and no studies can give reliable information on the effects of it. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, “researchers found ingredients in vaping products that could damage lungs, such as heavy metals and potentially toxic organic compounds.”  Some might even say it is worse than smoking. People can smoke for 30 years and not suffer any harmful effects, but someone that has been vaping for a year or two is already suffering.

President Trump is trying to ban flavored e-cigarettes because of the target to younger audiences. The candy and dessert flavors may be encouraging kids to try tobacco, and this may lead to worse behaviors. Research thus far has concluded that smoking is still more harmful than vaping, but it will be a while until we know for sure.

Concerns are coming from health teachers as well. Mrs. Lori Nyman, the Bellwood-Antis High School health and phys ed teacher, said, “The one thing that really worries me about vaping is how quickly teens and young adults are developing serious health issues. Using tobacco is harmful, but it can be years or even decades before you experience serious health issues. Vaping is causing serious health issues within months.” 

The e-cigarette and vaping issue is not being overlooked in health classes, either.

“The dangers of vaping are taught in ninth grade health. It is part of the tobacco unit,” said Mrs. Nyman. “Last year I started using a curriculum from Stanford University. The curriculum addresses everything from how they are made, some of the dangerous chemicals, the short-term and long-term side effects and how the industry is marketing them to young kids and teens.’

If students violate the school’s policy, they will receive a 3 day suspension and referral to a counseling program to make them aware of the dangers of addiction and nicotine. In addition, vaping devices are confiscated and destroyed.

“I am not naive that vaping happens at school, but I believe that students are making good choices, especially with some of the recent reports of health issues associated with vaping,” said Mr. Schreier.